Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has said the Champions League final should be a bigger event than the Super Bowl, and it needs to evolve to capture a bigger audience.
The 48-year-old Qatari businessman is said to have been debating ideas ahead of last week’s ECA (European Club Association) General Assembly, for clubs to explore “new commercial opportunities.”
“I can’t understand how the Super Bowl can feel bigger than the Champions League final,” he told The Athletic.
“The Super Bowl, and the U.S. generally, have this mindset, creativity and entertainment. That’s what I have suggested, to have an opening ceremony to the Champions League, to have one match on the opening night where the winners take on a big team — maybe it is not a good idea, but at least let’s challenge the status quo. Each match needs to be an event and entertainment.”
The 2022 Super Bowl attracted 112 million viewers, making it the most watched final in the last five years, while the Champions League final tends to draw between 380-400 million spectators outside of the venue.
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Al-Khelaifi was opposed to the proposed breakaway European Super League last year, and became a spokesperson who rejected the lead, before he became chair of the ECA.
The Champions League will expand to 36 teams from 32 in 2024, and from then media and commercial rights will be shared with the ECA. According to Al-Khelaifi, the change has been forecast to grow the men’s game’s commercial value by 39%, but he added: “We still need to explore additional untapped revenue streams together,” and explained the desire to explore new digital platforms.
“But of course, digital innovation is one of the things we are looking for. We’re also thinking with UEFA about event formats and experiences. Take the Champions League — by far the best club competition, but how do we make each match an event? My suggestion is to have a creative and entertainment department as part of the new joint venture between UEFA and ECA.
“How do we make the group stages compelling? The time difference is a problem for the U.S. and Asia. So how can we work on this for international rights which have huge potential? We are thinking about all kinds of things — new venues, new markets, new formats.”